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What makes a Ferrari-like partnership program different from a pokey 4-cylinder model? It’s not necessarily budget, and it’s not having celebrity influencers. It’s all about people, processes, and technology — and the tactics you implement with them. 

High-maturity programs, the Ferraris, are those with the most advanced, expert partnership decision makers who have overcome key challenges and have mostly automated their partnership programs. Slow-lane, low-maturity firms have yet to remove the manual aspects of their partnership programs to become faster, more flexible, and responsive. 

Forrester Consulting dissected the tactical differences between the best and the rest in their newest study commissioned by Impact, Smooth your partnership journey by learning from high-maturity companies. 

In addition to exploring the characteristics of mature partner programs and the direction these firms are moving, the study makes actionable recommendations for partnership channel success.

Among the recommendations are 7 tips every partnership professionals can take action on:

  1. Partnerships and their influence are changing. Take off your blinders and look at the wider aperture of partner types earlier in the journey to see who may have influence over your target audience and customers.
  2. Analyze your current partners by their role for buyers, subvertical, geography, size of customer, and product area. Then locate the segment the type of partner that is driving the most sales and expand your program along these areas of strength.

  3. Look for market opportunities to grow adjacent to areas of strength. Run small pilots to experiment with partners that influence a similar type of buyer in a different department, an adjoining geographic region, or a related subvertical.

  4. Look at your indirect channel like an ecosystem where intrafirm value creation, leveraging each other’s networks, and joint innovation are key objectives. Give those partners a “home” inside your partner program regardless of their business models and market focus where they can build specialization, collaborate with noncompetitive firms, and better serve the customer.
  5. Automate key areas of your partner monitoring and measurement. Build your program with the ability to scale from the very beginning, and make sure to reduce processes, business rules, and workflows that rely on human touches.
  6. Build your partner-facing portal and tools to be fully self-service, flexible, and easy to use. Drive engagement around sales and marketing while automating operational and financial functions.
  7. Look for opportunities to automate processes and workflows that can be governed with strict business rules and audited for compliance. Move exceptions into a human-monitored approval queue. 

For an in-depth look at the study data additional recommendations by vertical and phase of partnership, download the full study here, or start your journey today by connecting to an Impact growth technologist at grow@impact.com.

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